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Clark's Waitangi U-Turn Doesn't Stack Up

Helen Clark's sudden backdown over Ministers attending Waitangi Day commemorations at Waitangi is nothing short of disingenuous, Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

Mrs Shipley was responding to reports that the Prime Minister now wants two of her Ministers, Parekura Horomia and Tariana Turia, to go to Waitangi.

"First she boycotted Waitangi personally, then she banned any Crown presence including Ministers, the Governor General and the Navy, claiming that was a Cabinet decision.

"Now she is unilaterally overruling that directive, on the very eve of the commemorations, an apparent breach of Cabinet collective responsibility.

"Helen Clark is justifying this sudden turnaround by saying it is a response to the launch of a 40 year development plan for Maori at Waitangi tomorrow.

"If the Prime Minister is trying to suggest that this is a recent initiative then she is clutching at straws. It has been public knowledge for several weeks now that this 40-year plan was on the agenda for Waitangi Day. Either Miss Clark is using something she's known for some time as an excuse for a last minute U-turn, or she is hopelessly out of touch with events in Maoridom. Either way, this eleventh hour turnaround totally lacks credibility.

"In the area of race-relations the Government needs to send clear messages, not this mishmash of on-again off-again Crown involvement.

"The current jumbled mess is reminiscent of Helen Clark's Closing the Gaps flagship policy, which was on-again off-again and currently hangs in a nameless limbo.

"I will be attending the dawn ceremony at Waitangi tomorrow, as I have for many years, because I believe New Zealanders will only find a way forward by speaking frankly with one another. The Prime Minister's confused messages are doing nothing to help the progress of race relations in this country," Jenny Shipley said.


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